23 October 2013

Thinking Good Thoughts (A Habit for Day 23)

 I'm not a brain scientist, and I've never tried to measure the speed at which one thought leads to another, until I'm wildly off in idea-land, or worry-land, or some other kind of land that maybe I don't want to be in.  I just know it's really fast.

Then it feels like I'm a butterfly, flitting above the shores of a beautiful lake, only to be blown to the ground, stuck in the salt crystals, and left to languish in my discouraging thoughts.

Has that happened to you, too?  You're going along fine and then before you know it you're worried about a million crazy things you know are not logical?

Well, there's hope.  We don't have to be stuck forever.  The hope comes with hard work, but it's backed up by the Word and promises of God, which is the most sure foundation we could possibly have to turn around our thought lives.

Overcoming negative thoughts is not a powerless fight.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Before we get overwhelmed by bringing every thought captive (in other words, having control over every thought), let's focus on what Paul says about our weapons.

They are mighty.
We use them through God.
They even have power over our imaginations.
They have power over everything that goes against God.

Isn't that a boost to the confidence?  God doesn't want us to be stuck in a round of negative or fearful thinking, and He has given us the way out of these thoughts.

Next time we sense our thoughts going downhill, let's remember that God promised us help to overcome every unhealthy thought.

Take your mind off yourself, and think about Jesus.

Something I've noticed about my thoughts when they get negative in any way is that they center around myself.  The Bible says, however, to have a different thought center.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Philippians 2:5-8

In other words, Christ focused so much on what He could do to save you and me that no sacrifice was too great for Him to make.  He didn't get hung up on being self-centered, because He saw the end goal of His mission--you, in the perfect happiness of heaven.

We can ask for the same mind.  A mind focused on blessing others.  A mind willing to be humble for the sake of being a support to someone.  A mind that forgets about being self centered long enough to reach out to other hurting people.

Next time we sense our thoughts going downhill, let's turn to Jesus and ask for His other-centered focus, and even specifically ask who around us may need encouragement.

When you don't know what to think about, use God's pre-approved list.

I don't know about you, but all I have to do is hear a single word to start thinking about what that word means to me or reminds me of.  That's part of the value, for me at least, of one of God's most famous lists in the Bible.  The words in it are so descriptive that I can't help but think of their beauty when I go through the list.  I memorized the list easily as a child to words and music on Steve Green's Hide 'em in Your Heart album, volume 1.

(I'll quote it here in a different version than he uses, however.)

"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things."  Philippians 4:8

Next time we sense our thoughts going downhill, let's bring this list to mind.  And if we feel so far gone that we can't seem to think of anything on God's "approved list", let's ask Him to remind us of something--anything--that will take our minds away from what He says are good thoughts.  

Because ultimately the things that aren't on this list take our minds away from Jesus, and it's hard to walk with Him through any desert when we're looking away from Him.

{P.S.} Encouraging reading about how to conduct our thought lives:

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  1. I am finally caught up- have really gotten a blessing from all of your post. Thanks~ Lisa :O)

  2. This may be one of your best articles in this series.


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